For the second consecutive year, close to 300 Butler Avenue School students are being shown how to make healthier choices when it comes to eating and drinking, thanks to a N.C. State University nutrition education grant called “Steps to Health,” funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The 10-week program, led by Casey Stevens, Family and Consumer Sciences agent with the Cooperative Extension Service, was brought to the Clinton City School system last year thanks to Jeff Swartz, administrator for the system’s child nutrition department.
“This is a great way to get the kids involved, and all of it is curriculum-based,” Swartz said Wednesday. “What we are doing today is showing the kids how much sugar is in sport drinks and soda. The good thing is the students are using math to work out and convert how many teaspoons of sugar are in a glass of soda.”
Stevens asks the students to divide the amount of soda in the glass and then raise their hands when they had an answer.
First one, then another, and yet another young hand went into the air.
“17 teaspoons are in the soda,” answered one student after being called to respond.
“And how many grams are in this glass of soda?” asked Stevens.
The children go back to working out the math problem and hands fly up again, after getting the answer of 28 grams.
“Very, very good,” Stevens applauds. “Now, I want to introduce you to our special guest …”
With that, Swartz comes out wearing a purple and yellow hat and lab coat. “I am the mixologist,” he announces to the excited students. “I am going to show you how to make a soda without any sugar.”
Swartz combines seltzer water, 100 percent fruit drink, and a little orange juice and passes samples out to the students.
“Mmmm,” says William Byrd. “This is good.”
Tatiana Austin, who is sitting next to Byrd, agrees. “I like the taste.”
“It is a way to show you that soda is OK sometimes, but there are healthier options,” Swartz points out to the students.
Which, he stressed, is the whole point of the taste tests. Last year, students tasted brussel sprouts; a honeydew melon; raspberries, apricots, asparagus and kiwi. They will taste similar foods during the 10-week course this year as well.
Although the program is currently limited to Butler Avenue thir- graders, the hope is to get it into every elementary school.
For more information on the program or about other Sampson County N.C. Cooperative Extension programs, call 910-592-7161.
To reach Doug Clark call 910-592-8137 ext. 123 or send e-mail to email@example.com.